Boston Public Library
Government Information

Social Sciences Department, 2nd Floor, McKim Building, Central Library, 617-859-2261

Boston Police Strike of 1919

In 2008, a ledger containing the Records of the Police Commissioner for the year 1919 was found in the attic of a Boston home.  The homeowner returned the 1757-page volume to the Boston Police Department. The Department collaborated with the Boston Public Library to make it accessible to the public online. This volume details the day to day business of the Boston Police Commissioner during 1919. Entries include all general orders and specific information concerning police personnel such as appointments, transfers, leaves, deaths, dismissals of police officers and payroll information. These records also contain information on the many thousands of Bostonians who sought various city licenses: handgun, amusement, hackney carriage, wagon, collective musician (i.e. parade), private detective, junk collector, second hand article, pawnbroker, and Boston Elevated Railway conductor and motorman. The Police Department’s operating and personnel budget estimates for FY 1919-1920 can be found in the entry for March 6, 1919. Of particular interest is information on the Boston Police Strike which commenced September 9, 1919.

The BPL digitized the ledger in January 2009 and is pleased to make it available to the world via the Internet Archive.  The ledger begins with a handwritten index, and the other twelve volumes are the typewritten records for each month of the year, fully searchable.  Peruse this fascinating document, which is a treasure trove for historians, and indeed for anyone with an interest in Boston’s history. The library will add more related content in the future.

A panel discussion on the 90th Anniversary of the Boston Police Strike was held on September 9, 2009.

An exhibit of photographs and artifacts related to the strike was on exhibit during the month of September in the Chavannes Gallery, outside of Bates Hall on the second floor of the McKim Building, Central Library.

Also of interest: Boston Police Department Reports (1885-2005)